Video games can inspire innovation in the workplace

May 9, 20173 Minute Read

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Did you know that gaming is considered the neurological opposite of depression? Game designer and author Jane McGonigal explained the science behind this to Time in 2015, saying video games give us a “real sense of optimism in our abilities and our opportunities to get better and succeed, and more physical and mental energy to engage with difficult problems.” Sounds like the perfect way to increase workplace productivity.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the video game industry has grown up. From mental preparedness to socialization, video games have shown they’re good for us, right down to the pro-social activity from our neurological responses (basically, they help teams bond). What’s more, video games prepare people—and machines—for the digital world, enable us to be more social, and help us become more productive.

Prepare to enter the digital realm

You may not realize it, but all those years playing video games may have contributed to your ease with the digital world. After all, compared to older generations, many younger people have a better handle of technology. A TechnologyAdvice study on gamification found many other benefits that translate into the real world, as well, including improved memory, increases in efficiency, and enhanced empathy. These are highly important skills in the modern workplace. And, as it turns out, millennials were training for a world full of technology from the very first Super Mario Brothers session. They just didn’t quite know it (1-up to that!).

At the same time, games are learning from us, taking data and turning it into actionable AI. Georgia Tech researchers built a system that helps computers make moral decisions based on games. Their program, called Quixote, values storytelling as a learning platform for AI with gamelike plot graphs.

Understand that gaming is a highly social activity

These days, sitting behind a desk is simply not enough to motivate employees at work. Enter social activities in the workplace, which can boost morale and even act as culture-boosting recruitment tools in a hyper-competitive job market.

Friendly competition in video games is good for the workplace. It can build camaraderie missing from dull offices. If it comes in the form of fighting one another for supremacy in games like Super Smash Brothers, so be it. Gaming with a coworker can help people cope with real office problems. By helping individuals understand the strengths and weaknesses of team members, it can create a winning culture inside modern offices.

1-up your workplace productivity

Once upon a time, people thought video games were just for kids. What people don’t remember is that video games actually gained popularity with Pong and Pac-Man in bars (non-kid friendly places). Who would’ve thought that button-mashing could be sanctioned by your boss?

Since video games are now considered a form of artistic expression, all media is becoming gamified. Think of shows like Mr. Robot: Viewers are left guessing about the characters and their motivations, creating a more engaging style of content by asking more of the viewer; it’s like unraveling a mystery or solving a puzzle. This type of interaction encourages deeper decision making and more active problem solving—skills that easily translate into the office.

Video games are fun—but they’re also a worthwhile tool for training, socialization, and workplace productivity in 2017 and beyond. Bring some controllers to the office and watch the magic happen.

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